The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

Shelby Forest to Memphis

LBD 746 Upper Hickman

Completely under at flood stage, as the water drops a beautiful mid-island sandbar opens up and grows in size with clean large grain fields of sand lumped up and bounded by lines of willows, wild grasses, flowering plants and bushes, inlets and blues holes sometimes form around the edges.  Your best landing is frontside (main channel), and good swimming in slow waters also.  As the river drops into medium stage 15-25MG more sand appears backsides, and creates a suitable landing for picnics or campsites.  In low water below 15MG a mile-long sandbar emerges and you stop anywhere for endless beaches with great swimming, sunbathing and beach combing.

 

LBD 745 Middle Hickman

Top end of Middle Hickman boasts the tallest sandy/grassy island in the area.  At flood stage it’s the about the only possibility for a dry landing along all of Hickman.  The vegetation has been growing thicker through the years.  Mosquitoes might be thicker too in the hot months, but the protection will be better also, from sun or wind.  In winter months it would be an ideal camp.  A few tall cottonwoods dot the top amongst dense foliage (including poison ivy).  As you move down the island the thicker vegetation thins out, and you will discover some gorgeous grass-covered sandy parklands several  hundred yards down.  This would probably be your best bet for a suitable camp at high water.  Open areas found on frontside and backside.  Further down Middle Hickman declines into a wetlands (in high water).  As the river drops huge sandbars emerge around the frontside of Middle Hickman, steep banks at first, gradually leveling out in low water and extending hundreds of yards out from the central high parkland described above.  A big tongue of main channel water sluices above the top of Middle Hickman and rolls into the back channel.  Water flow declines as the river drops and then cuts off completely at low water.  When that happens you can’t do any more back channel paddling, of course, but you can walk over the high ground for great birding, wildlife viewing, rock hounding and swimming in the clarified water.

 

LBD 744 Lower Hickman

Lower Hickman is a tangle of flood-ravaged trees and medium high forest bottoms with a few tall trees that are frequently slammed by piles of driftwood.  No sand anywhere at high water.  Steep muddy/sandy banks littered with driftwood & river trash.  Wild place.  Great place to explore during low water.  A few isolated bars appear as the water drops, but it’s not until low water that you see any significant fields of sand opening up towards main channel. 

 

LBD 743 Below Lower Hickman

There is a large bluff of sand on a small island just below the lower dikes of Lower Hickman (near LBD 743) that would make a beautiful med-high water camp, ideal below  20MG.  It’s a small location at 25MG and goes completely under around 28MG.  On hot summer and fall days this particular place is a very popular sandbar for motorboat enthusiasts because there is a dependable deep water approach below the dikes on main channel side, even at low water.